Man files complaint after drunken-driving arrest

Darin W. Mercado claims he was assaulted by a man who assisted officers in tracking him down Friday.

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WALLA WALLA -- Darin W. Mercado, a Milton-Freewater man arrested on investigation of driving under the influence, has filed an assault complaint against a 24-year-old man who aided law enforcement officers in tracking Mercado down Friday.

According to a Walla Walla Sheriff's Office report, Steven Bly-Riggin, 24, and Michael Ruth, 34, noticed a 1992 Toyota 4Runner being driven erratically. The pair followed the SUV, and called dispatch to report an intoxicated driver.

In his complaint, Mercado claims the pair flashed their lights at him, and he pulled over near Martin Field outside College Place. According to Mercado, Bly-Riggin yelled at him, and then assaulted him. Mercado visited Providence St. Mary Medical Center when he was released from jail.

The 49-year-old appeared to have a strained shoulder and a possibly cracked rib, according to a medical report released to law enforcement.

Bly-Riggin and Ruth claim Mercado pulled over and then he approached their vehicle, despite the pair verbally warning Mercado to stay away, according to the Sheriff's Office report. Bly-Riggin scuffled with Mercado, knocking the older man to the ground. Bly-Riggin then claims he took Mercado's keys from the SUV.

The pair stated Mercado may have had another key, because he was able to drive away after the altercation. Mercado then drove south until he was pulled over on Burghoff Road just across Stateline Road in Oregon.

A Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office report states the officers were forced to use a Taser on Mercado multiple times to handcuff him during his arrest.

According to Undersheriff Edward Freyer, the Sheriff's Office is looking into the assault complaint, and the Prosecuting Attorney's Office will decide whether to pursue the assault complaint.

Freyer added the Sheriff's Office appreciates citizen reports of intoxicated driving, but suggested avoiding confronting suspects is a good idea.

Luke Hegdal can be reached at lukehegdal@wwub.com or 526-8326.

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